This post is copied from The Guardian (The Workers’ Weekly). It was written by two relatively new members of the Newcastle branch of the CPA.
How do new members join the CPA? The ways are many, but for the two of us it was a similar experience: it was due to the Red Flag.
We are both new members of the local Newcastle branch. Sure, we have longer histories as to why we joined, but let us focus on how it was the Red Flag that helped us make an active move to join the CPA. In our different ways, we had been at a march-cum-rally. In Newcastle, these events involve various groups, from unions through to the CPA. And at these events, it has been the custom for local party members to participate and, where possible, fly a big red CPA flag.
Let us tell our stories.
Then, like a swollen river that has broken bank and wall, The human flood came pouring with the red flags over all, And kindled eyes all blazing bright with revolution’s heat, And flashing swords reflecting rigid faces in the street.
When I was a child the Bushwhackers cover of Henry Lawson’s poem was played so often, on a bootlegged tape of my father’s, that I can’t hear it today but be taken back to the autumn of 1985. Those lines particularly stuck with me. The questions it caused me to ask my parents are what set my political compass. Time passed and soon without realising I was working two jobs and political opinion was something I thought I had no time to indulge in.
Fast-forward to March 2014: then it was that I saw the Red Flag above the anti-Abbott march in Newcastle. I was stunned! The Communist Party of Australia existed! It all came back to me. My father’s music, my grandmother’s stories, my great grandfather’s. The sight of the flag that day steeled my resolve to join the Party, and eventually I did. How many are there who have a similar past to mine? When they see “the symbol bright and plain” would they too gather to it? Those whose ancestors were workers, who worked in mines, or manufacturing jobs long since gone? Who have heard the stories of the power of the union, the power of solidarity and collective bargaining? We who have the opportunity of work today may only know the gig economy, working when we can, at the whim of employers, for what we can get. Yet there are still those of us who remember the stories of our forebears and know that the rights left to us were fought for by those who strode under the Red Flag.
And Roland writes:
The first time I saw the flag was in December, 2014: the hammer and sickle, the five stars of the southern cross, and “CPA” on a large Red Flag. I was thrilled to see it, since it told me that the CPA was alive and well, and that there is a local branch. A seed was planted, although it took a while to bear fruit.
The next year, I saw the flag again at another event, and I followed up by sending an email message or two to the central committee. They gave me the local branch secretary’s contact details. After a few talks over coffee with a couple of local members and an invitation for them to attend a “China Road” conference I was organising (sponsored by the Academy of Marxism in Beijing), I eventually raised the question of joining the party. I did so – at long last – towards the end of 2018.
There may be a host of ways to get out the news about the party: word of mouth, social media, the website, The Guardian and Australian Marxist Review. But the Red Flag should certainly be up there with the most important. After all, it is a flag with more than a century of history. It gives an unambiguous message to inquirers and new members like ourselves: the Communist Party is here, it is alive and kicking, and it stands for a clear platform.
Keep flying the Red Flag!